This interesting name is of medieval English origins. It is, or rather was, locational, deriving from a now "lost" hamlet near the village of Heptonstall, in West Yorkshire. The place is one of the estimated three thousand villages and hamlets which are known to have disappeared from the maps of the British Isles since the 15th century, and of which the only surviving public memory is the surname itself. The disappearances came about because of a range of natural, and sometimes man-made, disasters, such as the various plagues which swept the country between the Black Death of 1348, in which an estimated quarter of the population perished, and the equally horrendous Bubonic Plague of 1665, or to the widespread practice of landlords who cleared large areas of arable land, to make sheep pastures during the height of the wool-trade. Sheep required far fewer workers than arable land, although this practice has been reversed in the 20th century. Sadly because of ultra mechanisation of farming, the loss of people from the land continues. The placename Robertshaw was derived from an early owner's given name Robert, with the Middle English word "shawe", meaning a copse or wood, to give Robert's wood. The modern surname can be found as Robertshaw and Robshaw. Early examples of the surname recordings include those of Edwardus Robtshay who married Jana Wales at Elland in Yorkshire, on February 5th 1580, and the marriage of Daniel Robertshaw to Anne Gauntz at Bradford in Yorkshire, on February 19th 1599. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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